Metaphor Examples In Poetry

Introduction to metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech which provides a direct comparison between two dissimilar things without any explicit use of “like” or “as.” This compares two different things not only in words, but, in the real sense, as well. For example, “His eyes were diamonds” is a metaphor which comprehends that eyes and diamonds are synonymous in the sense that they both possess attributes such as brilliance, beauty and value. Such comparisons are common among metaphors.

Common Examples of Metaphor

Metaphors are all around us, not just in poetry but in everyday language as well. Some common examples include:

  • Time is money- The phrase shows that time is a valuable resource just like money
  • Life is a rollercoaster-It implies that life has ups and downs and can be thrilling or scary
  • The world is a stage- The sentence demonstrates that people are actors playing roles in the grand scheme of life
  • Love is a battlefield- The phrase compares the struggles and conflicts in relationships to a war

Importance of Metaphor in Poetry

Metaphors enable the poets to transmit deeper and profound ideas and emotions in a succinct manner. They are capable of writing those intricate descriptions which paint a clear picture standing before the eyes of the reader and making him/her eager to learn more. Metaphor not only gives deeper meaning and texture to their work, but also delivers several undesigned effects like the richness of fall and depth of winter. This topic integrates a variety of ideas which he links together to draw some apparent conclusions. In addition, the metaphors result in a deep subconscious reaction that provokes strong feelings in the reader.

metaphor examples in poetry

Example#1

“Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson

“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -“

The line “Hope is the thing with feathers” reflects that the poet has personified hope as a bird, the bird as a living and dynamic entity, existing in the human soul. The meaning of the given stanza is enhanced as the soul becomes a bird’s perch, thus conveying that hope is censored within ourselves. It is really comforting and heartwarming. To add, the bird also “sings the tune without the words”, which signifies that hope is a medium, a means of communicating its positive and resilient message even when the spoken word is not used. The last line, “And never stops- at any time -” acts as the evidence that hope remains forever and moves onward. By using the metaphor the poet really manages to illustrate that hope is a powerful and durable thing which uplifts a human spirit.

Example#2

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” by William Shakespeare

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:”

In this stanza, the poet uses metaphor to compare his beloved with a summer day. He poses the rhetorical question “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” to lead it up into the metaphoric analysis. The author on the other hand is not clear that the beloved is more beautiful and admired then the entire summer day. It is natural that nature is considered a source of inspiration, but the poem goes further by demonstrating that a person’s beauty and temperament surpasses the refinement of the best summer. The last two lines of the stanza indirectly shows heartbreaking and transient manifestation of summer’s beauty. He reveals that time moves faster in summer than anywhere else; in other words, it doesn’t have long left because the leaves hardly “sigh” for more.

Example#3

“I wandered lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;”

The first line, “I wandered lonely as a cloud” draws a comparison between the poet wandering haphazardly like a cloud freely moving in the sky. Through this metaphor, the poet conveys an atmosphere of unfamiliar sheltering and disconnection. The poem takes a turn when the poet stumbles upon “a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils”. The metaphor of the daffodils as a “crowd” or “host” personifies the flowers. It gives them a sense of liveliness and energy. The word “golden” adds the visual imagery and emphasizes the vibrant beauty of the daffodils.

He evokes this sentiment by the fact that the poet and nature share the same source of inspiration when he tells us that even in the desert peaks and lonesome thought, natural beauty with its solace and companionship can so effectively bring peace in and proper meaning to one’s life.

Example#4

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;”

The poet describes a situation in which he is on the crossroads (where one road leads to life and the other to death or a dangerous adventure) and he regrets that he cannot take both of them. This might be a metaphor of the saying, Life often longs for those paths, we couldn’t travel both. The statement “An be one traveler” makes us think about how one traveler can only take one road at a time and has to live with the consequences, shaping the adventure of life.

The personification of the road I stood on and pointed it “as far as I could/To where it bent in the undergrowth” symbolizes the hesitations and considerations that are occurring in the mind while making some major life decisions. Moreover, Frost emphasizes the crucial choice that forms as we traverse in life and the perpetual feeling of amusement and mystery that goes with it. This stanza requests the readers to do a simple task of reflecting on the factors that they have considered in their past or the future for making the right decisions.

metaphor examples in poetry
metaphor examples in poetry

Example#5

“A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns

“O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.”

Here, the poet uses two metaphors in order to express the depth and beauty of his love. In the first two lines, the poet compares his love to a “red, red rose / That’s newly sprung in June”. This metaphor shows that his love is vibrant, passionate and full of life, just like a red rose in full bloom at the beginning of summer. The repetition of “red” emphasizes the intensity and vividness of his emotions. The next two lines shows his love to “the melody / That’s sweetly played in tune.” This metaphor implies that his love is harmonious, pleasant and perfectly balanced like a beautifully composed piece of music. The phrase “sweetly played” demonstrates that his love is gentle, tender and soothing to the soul.

Function of Metaphor

The metaphor creates a strong visual image in the mind of the readers. This make the poem more engaging and memorable. Metaphor is helpful to convey complex emotions and ideas in a relatable and accessible way. They add depth and richness to the poem’s meaning. It encourages the readers to interpret the work on multiple levels. They establish connections between unrelated concepts and reveals new insights and perspectives. They evoke powerful emotional response from the reader. This makes the poem more impactful and resonant.

To summarize, metaphors provide non-stop opportunities to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a colorful and grandiloquent way. They help to paint a vivid picture, add shades and layers to the poet’s message. The use of metaphor in poetry give an idea of the expansiveness of the device and its power.

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